Life without Crime as a Fundamental Right of the Child: On the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

Author:Ilona Kronberga

The publication analyses the concept of child-friendly justice within the context of law-enforcement practices with regard to international and European Union law. The work is based on the premise that a child’s rights are human rights of the child. One of the fundamental rights of every child is the right to a friendly legal environment, which includes the right to grow up in an environment free ... (see full summary)

Ilona Kronberga
Doctoral student
University of Latvia
Life without Crime
as a Fundamental Right
of the Child:
On the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency*1
1. Introduction
The understanding of the rights of the child and their meaning di ers between countries, as does the situa-
tion in the eld of protection of children’s rights. Very often, contradictory opinions ourish in society: some
think that children have too many rights, while others recognise violation of the rights of the child even
in cases wherein there is no violation at all. Although professional debate on topical problems, this issue
among them, can be considered a part of diversity of opinion and therefore favourable, extreme opinions or
actions that are based on common law instead of knowledge do not enhance healthy development of society,
of which the children are an integral part. Still, there are several European countries where the rights of the
child are not addressed by a separate branch of law and legal science; therefore, questions pertaining to the
rights of the child fail to be brought into those states’ academic debate and the knowledge of future lawyers
and students of other sciences.
Rights of the child belong to a horizontal branch of law and legal sciences, and, in fact, issues of them
permeate every part of the legal framework and social activity. This is because the rights of the child are the
child’s human rights. These are the rights of a human who grows, develops, learns, and gains life experi-
ence and maturity every day. They are the rights of a human who has not yet reached maturity but is in the
process of personal development. This is what makes a child not a ‘small adult’. Lack of such understanding
sparks heated debate in cases that involve limitations to the rights of the child or, vice versa, the violation
of these rights and appropriate reactions to it. Today, one such area of debate in Latvia surrounds juvenile-
delinquency prevention, responses to o ences committed by children, and attitudes towards child victims
involved in various proceedings of formal justice.
In 2007, analysis of the in uence of traditional justice on children who are on the line of committing
a crime or have already crossed this border led to the conclusion that it is important to understand that an
o ence committed by a juvenile as socially ‘deformed’ behaviour shows that the rights of this child have
already been violated, earlier in his or her life, and that the child’s interests have been neglected. Lack of
care/consideration, indi erence by parents and other adults, and reluctance to understand and to satisfy
a child’s needs all can lead to the child committing an o ence. The child should be blamed for commission
This publication has been prepared on the basis of conclusions from studies in the elds of protection of children’s rights
and juvenile-delinquency prevention in Latvia and other European countries over the last six years.

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